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Consider American Black Walnuts On National Walnut Day

American Black Walnuts For National Walnut Day
[1] Black walnuts: beautiful, but with an extremely hard shell that requires a special nutcracker (photos #1 and #2 © American Black Walnut Marketing Board).

Black Walnuts Husk & Shell

[2] The fleshy green outer covering is called the husk or shuck.(photos #2 and #3.

Bags of Hammons Black Walnuts
[3] The best source for black walnuts online is Hammons (remaining photos © Hammons Products Company).

Salad With Black Walnuts
[4] You don’t have to cook or bake to add black walnuts to a salad…

Granola With Black Walnuts
[5] …or to granola….

Charcuterie Board With Black Walnuts
[6] …or to a charcuterie board.

Black Walnuts Pesto Recipe
[7] Black walnut pesto. Here’s the recipe.


May 17th is National Walnut Day. Walnuts may be the healthiest of the seven heart-healthy nuts. Here’s the scoop.

The conventional walnut in the U.S. is the English walnut (also called the Persian walnut*). But what about that other, little-known, wild American walnut, the walnut?

The taxonomical difference is in the footnote* below.

> The history of walnuts.

Most of us know little or nothing about the American black walnut. Growing wild in Missouri and much of the eastern U.S., they were a part of many indigenous peoples’ diets at one time.

These days, they’re below the radar, cultivated in just a few states. More expensive to produce than the standard English walnut, black walnuts have become a specialty item for those in the know.

In addition to the expense of production, there is less meat per nut, as you can see in photo #2.

Another reason they fell out of favor: Black walnuts are truly a hard nut to crack, sporting extremely hard shells. Cracking black walnuts by hand can also result in stained hands.

But fear not: Commercial growers use large steel wheels to crack the nuts.

While subject to irrigation and some mechanical harvesting, the trees themselves are uncultivated—they have not been modified in any way over the years. American black walnuts truly are the wild cousin† of the cultivated English walnut.

The American Black Walnut Marketing Board is hoping that more outreach will convince people to try them.
Why use black walnuts when there are plenty of English walnuts available?

For the flavor!

Black walnuts have a heartier, earthier, more robust taste than English walnuts, and you’ll notice the difference as soon as you taste one.

They showed themselves brilliantly in the Toll House Cookie recipe, which is a favorite in our house.

We’ve been happily using them to replace English walnuts everywhere.

However, because the flavor is different, you can’t count on substituting them 1:1 in recipes for baking and cooking, without affecting the recipe outcome.

It’s best to start with tested recipes from black walnut websites like the American Black Walnut Marketing Board and Hammons .
For the nutrition!

We’d prefer them even if they weren’t more nutritious—and given the nutrition of English walnuts, that’s a lot of extra nutrition!

  • Black walnuts contain 57% more protein than English walnuts and have the highest levels of protein of all tree nuts.
  • Compared with the top five other tree nuts, black walnuts contain the most protein and the fewest carbohydrates and starches.
  • On the vitamin front, black walnuts contain the highest quantity of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), an essential nutrient [source]

    Add culinary zest to your favorite foods with shelled walnuts. The black walnut oil is a real treat as a finishing oil for vegetables, salads, and fish dishes, and for vinaigrettes.

    There are also gift tins, snacks, and confections.

    There are plenty of recipe ideas on the website, should you need culinary inspiration.

    Head to

  • Bruschetta With Brie & Walnut Oil
  • Butternut Squash & Vermont Maple Syrup Ravioli with Pears, Apples & Walnuts
  • Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie
  • Endive Salad With Roquefort, Figs & Walnuts
  • Fettuccine Alfredo With Port & Walnuts
  • Frisée Salad With Lardons (Salade Frisée Aux Lardons)
  • Goat Cheese Salad With Dried Cherries, Candied Walnuts & Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Lamb Loin Chops With Zucchini, Walnut & Caper Couscous
  • Nut-Crusted Fish
  • Oatmeal-Nut Waffles
  • Pear, Walnut & Gorgonzola Pizza With Walnuts
  • Pxali, Georgian Spinach Dip With Walnuts
  • Spiced Walnut & Cheese Spread Sandwich
  • Walnut Butter
  • Walnuts On Pizza
  • Walnut Spread, A Versatile Spread, Filling & Thickener
  • White Cheddar Pizza With Bacon & Walnuts

  • Award-Winning Walnut Cake
  • Baklava
  • Butterscotch Brownies (Blondies)
  • Chocolate-Covered Nuts & Nut Clusters
  • Date Nut Bread
  • Peach Cobbler With Walnuts and Peaches & Cream Oat Muffins
  • Rocky Road Brownies
  • Rocky Road Truffles
  • Rosemary Walnut Biscotti
  • Sour Cream Walnut Apple Pie

    *The tree originated in the Middle East and these Persian walnuts became known as English walnuts. That’s because English merchant ships would trade them around the world, so they became commonly known as English walnuts. The English walnut and the Persian walnut are the same walnuts [source].

    †All walnuts are members of the order Fagales an order of trees and shrubs, in the family Juglandaceae, the plant family known as the walnut family. The genus is Juglans, and that’s where the two walnuts split off. The Persian or English walnut is Juglans regia. The black walnut, also known as the American black walnut and the Eastern black walnut, is Juglans nigra. Here’s more about taxonomy, the branch of science concerned with the classification of organisms. The Latin name, Juglans, derives from Jovis glans, “Jupiter’s acorn”—figuratively, a nut fit for a god.

    There are 21 species in the genus that range across the north temperate Old World from southeast Europe east to Japan, and more widely in the New World from southeast Canada west to California and south to Argentina.

    There are five native walnut species in North America: black walnut, butternut, Arizona walnut and two species in California. The two most commonly found walnuts found in native locations are the black walnut and butternut [source].






    American Craft Beer Week: Look For The Craft Brewer Seal

    It’s American Craft Beer Week, celebrating the more than 6,600 U.S. independent craft brewers*. If you needed an excuse to explore new beers, the second full week in May is it!

    When you’re shopping for craft beer, book for the Independent Craft Brewer Seal (on all photos).

    The seal indicates that the beer was brewed by an independent U.S. craft brewery.

    It tells you that you’re supporting a small business, which in turn supports your community† by providing jobs, sales that keep more money circulating in the local economy, the resulting tax revenue, and more.

    Buy local and drink great beer.

    The Independent Craft Brewer Seal was launched in 2017. The design is a classic beer bottle shape flipped upside down.

    The seal indicates that a brewery is certified to be independently owned. It now appears on the bottles of more than 80% of the volume of craft brewed beer.

    What About Your Regular Brand?

    You may be accustomed to drinking beer brands owned by large multinational corporations, but give the little guys a chance.

    Craft beers are more complex, and more interesting.

    Craft beers have a richer and more distinctive taste than mass-produced beer.

    Craft brewers tend to be very passionate about their beer. They invest time and energy to maintain and improve the quality of their beers.

    Large national and international beers, on the other hand, focus on generating more and more sales, via huge marketing campaigns, distributor and retailer deals.

    Not All “Craft Beer” Is Craft Beer!

    An article on the 15 most popular craft beer brands in the U.S. lists many that are not small brewers.

    That’s not surprising, since the owners of these brands have the money to ratchet up sales.

  • Blue Moon, the number one “craft” brand, is a wholly owned subsidiary of MillerCoors. It has a market share of 11%. By comparison, the market share of Bud Light, the country’s biggest beer brand, is 13.24%!
  • Samuel Adams, a brand of Boston Beer Company, a public company, is 26% owned by billionaire Jim Koch. It has a 6.5% market share of all American beer brands.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing is the seventh-largest brewing company in the U.S. It has 7% of the total U.S. market share by volume and 12% by sales.
  • Goose Island is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
  • And so on. Check online to see if your “craft beer” is truly a craft beer.
    Try A New Craft Beer Brand

    “Drink outside your comfort zone,” says the Brewers Association, the trade association for brewers.

    “Flip your “brew-tine,” they suggest (that’s a play on “flip your routine”—we had to read it twice).

    Celebrate the creativity of small and independent breweries. Try new brands and different beer styles.

    And if you’re already a craft beer fan, there are plenty of other brands waiting for you to try.

    How About This Weekend?

    This weekend, maybe get together with a group of friends for a potluck craft beer celebration.

    Or, visit a brewery. Use this Brewery Finder to locate a brewpub or taproom near you. Most Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery.

    Stay for a pint or grab and go some of the specialties.

    Check the Brewers Association website,, for great articles, written by beer lovers for beer lovers. Learn more and discover new beers and brands on

    There are also plenty of recipes for cooking with beer.

    No time to visit the website? Sign up for the newsletter!


    Glass Of Beer With Craft Brewers Seal
    [1] A pint glass with the Independent Craft Brewer Seal (all photos © Brewers Association).

    Bottle Of Beer With Craft Brewers Seal
    [2] The logo on a beer bottle from Mast Landing Brewing Company, a craft brewer in Maine.

    Independent Craft Brewers Logo
    [3] The seal can have a white or color background.

    Craft Beer Seal On A Six-Pack
    [4] Take home a six-pack of bottles…

    Independent Craft Brewer Seal
    [6] …or a six-pack of cans.


    *The Brewers Association, a trade organization of beer brewers, defines “craft brewer” as a small, independent, traditional brewer. Specifically, annual production is 6 million barrels of beer or less. Also, the brewer must be less than 25% owned or controlled by an alcohol industry member that is not itself defined as a craft brewer. By contrast, Bud Light, America’s best-selling beer, shipped 27.2 million barrels in 2019.

    †Even if you buy craft beer brewed in another locale, you’re still supporting a community business, as opposed to a multinational corporation with no roots.






    Antipasto Pizza Recipe For National Pizza Party Day

    Antipasto Pizza Recipe
    [1] Top a pizza with your favorite antipasto ingredients (photo © DeLallo).

    Antipasto Meats For Antipasto Pizza Recipe
    [2] You can add antipasto meats to the vegetarian recipe below. In photo: sweet soppressata, hot soppressata, Genoa salami, prosciutto (photo © Williams Sonoma).

    Provolone Cheese For Antipasto Pizza Recipe
    [3] Provolone, a classic Italian cheese, often served cubed on an antipasto platter (photo © Castello Cheese).

    Baby Arugula For Antipasto Pizza Recipe
    [4] We prefer the pepper bite of arugula to spinach (photo © Good Eggs).


    There are currently 12 pizza holidays in the U.S. (see the list below). The third Friday in May is National Pizza Party Day. You’ve got a few days to plan your pizza party.

    It can be as simple as a homemade pizza at home with store-bought dough.

    Check out the recipe below for Antipasto Pizza, is vegetarian as shown (photo #1), but can have added prosciutto or other Italian cured meat (photo #2).

    Not to mention, 50 more pizza recipes to suit every palate.

    > The history of pizza.

    > Pizza trends in the U.S.

    DeLallo made this pizza using fresh spinach, their Italian-Style Pizza Sauce, dough from their DeLallo Pizza Dough Kit, and Provolini Antipasti, a jarred medley of cubes of provolone cheese, tender button mushrooms, black and green olives, and sweet red peppers, in canola oil.

    We preferred to use the ingredients we had on hand: pitted black Nicoise and pitted green Castelvetrano olives, a jar of roasted red peppers, and fresh mushrooms.

    And while the original recipe called for baby spinach, we preferred the peppery bite of baby arugula.

    You can also use Italian antipasto meats: prosciutto, soppressata, and different types of salame.

    To spread the flavor, cut them into strips.

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 1 cup antipasto ingredients: olives, mushrooms, roasted red peppers
  • Optional antipasto meats
  • Handful of fresh baby arugula or spinach leaves

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450˚F. Shape the pizza dough for a thin crust. Place on a greased baking sheet or pizza pan and bake for 5 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the oven and top with sauce, cheese, and antipasto ingredients. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

    3. TOP with fresh arugula or spinach leaves and serve.

    Whether you get a takeout pizza, go to a restaurant, or make your own, mark your calendars for:

  • JANUARY: National Pizza Week, beginning the second Sunday in January
  • FEBRUARY: Great American Pizza Bake, beginning the second week in February, a week where you’re encouraged to not only consume pizza, but to try your hand in making it
  • FEBRUARY: National Pizza Day (a.k.a. National Pizza Pie Day), February 9th
  • APRIL: National Deep Dish Pizza Day, April 5th
  • MAY: National Pizza Party Day, third Friday
  • JUNE: Pizza Margherita Day, June 11th
  • SEPTEMBER: National Cheese Pizza Day, September 5th
  • SEPTEMBER: National Pepperoni Pizza Day, September 20th
  • OCTOBER: National Pizza Month
  • OCTOBER: International Beer and Pizza Day, October 9th
  • OCTOBER National Sausage Pizza Day, October 11th
  • NOVEMBER: National Pizza With Everything Except Anchovies Day, November 12th






    Lady M’s Peach Cobbler Mille Crepes Cake—Get It While You Can

    Every so often, a gift comes along that is truly a special occasion. More than a box of fine chocolates or great cookies, in this case, it’s a cake: Lady M’s Peach Cobbler Mille Crêpes Cake.

    The cake is a limited edition for the month of May, making it even more special. We’ve tasted upwards of 10 flavors of Lady M’s Mille Crêpes Cake, and this is an unusual, delightfully surprising variation.

    Bravo to Lady M! We’re so happy that we had the opportunity to try the Peach Cobbler Mille Crêpes Cake.

    This special flavor is available for pick-up at Lady M boutiques in New York City and Southern California. More about it follows.

    > The history of the Mille Crêpes Cake.

    Silky smooth, the 20 layers of impossibly thin, delicate, handmade crêpes are filled with a special version of Lady M’s pastry cream made with blonde chocolate (more about that below) and flecked with peach pieces.

    Another feature that makes this crêpes cake different from the other Lady M flavors is the toppings: succulent sliced, glazed peaches in the center and a finely-grained, cinnamon-accented streusel* around the edge.

    While the pâtissier calls it a “vanilla crumble,” we know cinnamon-accented streusel crumbs when we see them and taste them! For us, the crumbs make the flavor profile more crumb cake than cobbler—a traditional cobbler is topped with biscuit-like “cobblestones” (see the difference here).

    But call it whatever, we have no complaints. Just give us another slice, please!

    The new cake flavor is inspired by the classic Southern dessert, Peach Cobbler, and was created in collaboration with “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Sutton Stracke, a Georgia native.

    In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (May), 10% of all sales of the Peach Cobbler Mille Crêpes Cake will be donated to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

    It’s an organization that’s near and dear to Sutton and her family.

    NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. The partnership with Lady M will strive to have a positive impact by emphasizing the importance of speaking out about mental health, and aligns with Lady M’s mission to “Share Cake, Share Happiness.”

    And the happiness?

    Just take a bite!

    Blonde chocolate, also known as caramelized chocolate and toasted white chocolate, is a relatively recent addition to the types of chocolate: the classic dark (1847), milk (1875), and white (1930) varieties and the newer ruby chocolate (created by Callebaut, it was launched in 2017, five years after blonde chocolate in 2012—see photos #6 and #7).

    > The history of chocolate.

    Blonde chocolate is cooked white chocolate which uses the Maillard reaction† to create a caramel-like flavor and a tan hue (photo #6).

    In addition to cooking finished white chocolate until the Maillard reaction occurs, blonde chocolate can be made by using “caramelized” milk powder (i.e. milk crumb) in the initial recipe. Either way, the flavor of the milk used to make the chocolate is changed.

    Created by Valrhona Chocolate and trademarked as Blond® chocolate, the new flavor was introduced by Valrhona under the product name Dulcey.

    Blonde chocolate was created by accident. Frédéric Bau, the executive chef and director of Valrhona’s Ecole du Grand Chocolat, had melted white chocolate in a bain-maire (water bath) for a demonstration. He inadvertently left the remaining chocolate on the stovetop overnight.

    Coming back to the kitchen some 10 hours later, he found that the melted chocolate had turned light tan in color and gave off aromas of shortbread, caramelized milk, and unrefined sugar.

    He found the result of his oversight to be delicious and set out to recreate it as couverture chocolate and produce it on a larger scale. (It took eight years to perfect the recipe.)

    Valrhona’s Blond/Dulcy has 35% cacao solids chocolate, a unique blonde color, and, per the brand, intense biscuity notes, a light sugar taste with a hint of salt, and a creamy texture.

    Whether it’s used for bars, bonbons, or in pâtisserie, blonde chocolate pairs beautifully with caramel, toffee, and hazelnut flavors, and with mildly acidic fruits such as apricot, banana, and mango.

    If you haven’t yet tasted blonde chocolate, it’s easy to pick up a bar at Amazon.

    While you’re at it, if you haven’t had ruby chocolate, pick up a bar of that as well.

    Different artisan chocolate makers use Valrhona’s couverture to create their own blonde chocolates.

    > See our Chocolate Glossary for more chocolate types and terms.

    Lady M is a New York City maker of luxury confections, with more than 50 boutiques worldwide. Established in 2001, Lady M is the creator of the world-famous Mille Crêpes Cake. Lady M marries French pastry techniques with Japanese sensibilities, resulting in delicate cakes that are a touch sweet and perfect for every occasion. All cakes are handmade and prepared fresh without food additives or preservatives. The crêpes cakes are a very special treat, although Lady M makes a variety of delectable cakes and confections. Learn more at

    *Streusel is a crumb topping made from butter, flour, and sugar. It can also contain chopped nuts or rolled oats. It’s used on cakes and pies alike. Pronounced SHTROY-zul, the word derives from the German “streuen,” meaning to sprinkle or scatter. The American mispronunciation “STROO sul?” Fuggedaboudit.

    †The brown caramel color in certain foods comes from a reaction that occurs when sugar reacts with amino acids under heat. Called the Maillard (my-YARD) reaction after the French physician and chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who first reported it in 1912, it’s a form of non-enzymatic browning that [usually] requires heat. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. The color and flavor of toasted bread and nuts; barbecued, roasted, and seared meats; and roasted coffee (and many other flavors) are the result of Maillard reactions. And of course, caramel candy is the result of a Maillard reaction.


    Lady M Peach Cobbler Crepe Cake
    [1] Lady M’s Peach Cobbler Crêpes Cake is topped with glazed peaches and a “vanilla crumble” (all cake photos © Lady M).

    Lady M Peach Cobbler Mille Crepe Cake
    [2] Give everyone a big slice. It will disappear quickly.

    Lady M Peach Cobbler Crepe Cake
    [3] Bet you can’t eat just one!

    Lady M Mille Crepe Cake
    [4] Pistachio, another flavor of Mille Crêpes Cake.

     Lady M Mille Crepe Cake
    [5] Another favorite, Chocolate Mille Crêpes Cake.

    Valrhona Blonde Dulcey Chocolate
    [6] Valrhona’s Dulcey, the first blonde chocolate (photo © Valrhona).

    Callebaut Ruby Chocolate
    [7] In addition to blonde chocolate, the familiar dark, milk and white chocolates, plus new ruby chocolate (photo © Barry Callebaut).







    Pairing Champagne & Barbecue Plus A Free Champagne Course

    Pairing Champagne & Barbecue
    [1] Brut Champagne, the most popular style in Champagne and among sparkling wines in general, is a dry style, but not as dry as Extra Brut (photos #1, #2, and #4 © Champagne Bureau | Facebook).

    Pairing Champagne & Barbecue
    [2] Rosé Champagne is a delight with any course, and pairs well with fruit-based desserts.

    Pairing Champagne & Barbecue
    [3] Blanc de Blancs Champagne, is a perfect pairing with seafood. The crème de la crème of Blanc de Blancs is Taittinger Comptes de Champagne (photos #3 and #5 © Champagne Taittinger).

    Champagne & Hors d'Oeuvre
    [4] Salty snacks, cheeses, charcuterie, and other nibbles are delicious with an Extra Brut Champagne, the driest style.

    Rose Champagne With Fruit
    [5] Rose Champagne is delicious with fruit desserts.


    Have you ever considered serving Champagne with barbecue? Neither did we, until the Champagne Bureau U.S. sent us the following suggestion for a Memorial Day celebration. Your crowd may prefer beer or a hearty red wine with barbecue (Barolo, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec Shiraz, Zinfandel).

    But if you’d like to try something different, take a look at these suggestions.

    Champagne pairs perfectly with grilling, says the Champagne Bureau, which is the official site of the Comité Champagne. This trade association represents all the grape growers and houses [producers] in the Champagne region of France.

    We must note that while Champagne is the crème de la crème of sparkling wines, if it’s not in your budget, you can use less pricy bubbly. Check out our list of affordable sparkling wines.

    > May 16th is National Barbecue Day.

    Champagne and other sparklers offer a diversity of styles that can be paired with a barbecue menu.

  • For pre-barbecue snacking, potato chips are an unusual yet perfect pairing with an Extra Brut Champagne. Extra Brut is the driest style, and pairs well with other salty foods as well—from charcuterie to olives and popcorn.
  • For the main course, barbecue ribs, brisket, and other smoked and grilled meats pair wonderfully with a vintage or nonvintage Brut Champagne. Brut is the most common type of sparkling wine in the world. Brut can have up to 12 g/L of residual sugar but will taste completely dry to most palates. The sugar gives the wine a bit of weight rather than sweetness. While Brut can go with just about anything, it is great with salty foods. Try it with fried chicken as well as barbecue chicken. A Brut Champagne can be made from all white grapes, all black [red‡] grapes, or a combination of both.
  • With grilled seafood—fish, scallops, shrimp—pair a Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Meaning “white from white” (i.e., white wine from white grapes), a typical Blanc de Blancs is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes. The style tends to be lighter and drier than Blanc de Noirs, “white from black” (i.e., white wine from black [red] grapes†, which in Champagne are typically Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier).
  • For dessert, a Rosé† Champagne goes nicely with fruit salad or fruit pie. A sweeter style of Champagne, such as demi-sec* or sec, is also delicious. Of course, Rosé Champagne is delicious with just about everything.

    If you’d like to learn more about Champagne, you can take the Champagne Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) at your convenience.

    Study at your own pace, 24/7. The classic version is free and is packed with almost 5 hours of pairing tips and other fascinating facts about the Champagne region and its wines.

    How long is it? The total course runs for less than 5 hours and covers:

  • The Champagne-making process
  • The Champagne terroir
  • History and economy of Champagne
  • Diversity and tasting
    Each of these four modules includes videos, texts, and illustrative content to make learning easier.

    Thanks to the 16,200 growers and 360 houses in Champagne that produce such wonderful wines, beloved the world over.

    > The 6 styles of champagne: Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Non-Vintage, Prestige Cuvée, Rosé, Vintage.

    > The 7 levels of sweetness: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demi-Sec, Doux.


    *Although “demi-sec” translates to “half dry” in French, it actually means that it is half as dry as doux, the French word for sweet.

    †By pressing these red grapes very gently, and removing the skins quickly after pressing, the wine retains its white color. The grape juice is naturally white. Red wine is created by allowing the skins to remain in contact with the juice, imparting their red color. To make a rosé wine, the skins are left for a much shorter time.

    ‡While the wine they produce is red in color, most of the grape varieties’ skins are black with red or blue hues. Thus, the industry refers to them as black grapes. It is also proper to refer to them as red wine grapes, because they make red wine!







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